Friday, July 22, 2022

Q&A with Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson


Kathleen Glasgow



Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson are the authors of the new young adult novel The Agathas. Glasgow's other books include Girl in Pieces. Lawson has also written The Lucky Ones. Glasgow lives in Tucson, Arizona; Lawson lives in the Washington, D.C., area.


Q: What inspired the two of you to write The Agathas, and how did you create your characters Alice and Iris?


Liz: We started throwing around the idea of writing something fun in early 2020, right around the time Covid got to the United States. The world felt bleak and overwhelming, and we wanted a way to escape—so we created the slightly off-kilter world of Castle Cove, California.


Since we were co-writing, we decided doing dual POV would make the most sense, and so we started working to create our girls who are from totally different worlds, but are both lonely and in need of a friend.


Liz Lawson

For Alice, the jumping off point was her mysterious disappearance in the wake of a bad breakup, which we modeled off of Agatha Christie’s own 11-day disappearance after she found out her husband was having an affair.


Kathleen: Liz and I share an editor and that’s how we met, initially. Liz wrote a terrific debut called The Lucky Ones, about the aftermath of a school shooting, and we started chatting about writing and books and the things we loved, like mysteries, thrillers, and true crime books.


We started brainstorming The Agathas on a lark, really, keeping it just between us, and it felt like a marvelous secret. Dual POV worked for both of us—we could play Alice (written by Liz) off of Iris (written by me) and examine Castle Cove, the crime, and their friendship, all at once.


Q: The novel has been compared to the work of Agatha Christie, the Nancy Drew series, and the Veronica Mars TV series. What do you think of those comparisons, and are you both fans of Agatha Christie's work?


Liz: I’m hugely honored by them! I’ve watched the Veronica Mars series many a time (minus that last episode, IYKYK), and looove the characters and town of Neptune, California.


I’ve been a huge fan of Agatha Christie’s books ever since I was old enough to start reading them, and it was a joy to write a book where we were able to incorporate methods her detectives used, as well as quotes from her works.


And, as I was recently reminded while back at my parents’ house, I grew up reading Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys mysteries, and found them hugely influential! 


Kathleen: I think it’s very cool to have a character (Alice) who loves a real-life mystery writer, Agatha Christie, and is inspired by their books, using them as tools to solve crimes. It works well, too, to have Alice love AC and have Iris not as familiar with her works; that means readers unfamiliar with Agatha Christie can have things explained to them via Alice/Iris.


I read a lot of Nancy Drew growing up, but started gravitating toward adult mysteries and crime fiction pretty early on; I like gritty, nerve-baring stories, I guess. I’ve read Agatha Christie and love the intricacies of the plots and the characters.


Q: Can you describe your collaboration?


Liz: Before we started writing, we plotted the book out together, so we had a good sense of where we were trying to go with each section.


That said, we each took one POV character (I’m Alice!) as our own and wrote their sections, and would trade chapters back and forth daily. Kathleen is three (sometimes two) hours behind me, and I’d write mine in the morning and send over to her mid-afternoon my time, and she’d write her chapter then.


Kathleen: We agreed early on that we would write quickly; the plot we devised and the particular nuances of our dual POVs dictated quick writing. Liz was a natural fit for Alice and I wrote Iris. We traded chapters every day. 


Q: What do you think the novel says about socioeconomic divisions in a town like Castle Cove?


Liz: It was interesting writing from the perspective of Alice, who’s been mostly naive to the class divide in her town up until this point, because she’s on the top of the heap—she’s popular, pretty, and rich. But, when the book opens, she’s lost all her friends and is now an outcast.


When she and Iris start hanging out, it opens her eyes to a whole other side of Castle Cove, but the thing is, she finds herself almost jealous of Iris, because Iris’s mom is lovely and truly cares about her daughter, whereas Alice’s parents are MIA and have left her to be raised by her nanny Brenda.


When Brooke goes missing, and the cops immediately pin her death on her boyfriend Steve, who’s not one of the haves, and can’t afford to hire a big-name attorney for his defense, Alice’s eyes start to open to the inequalities that exist in her town.


Kathleen: Iris is very attuned to the haves and have nots in Castle Cove, especially since she’d be considered a “have-not.” It was important for Liz and me to think about the socioeconomic divisions in the town, as they affect the plot of the book and Iris and Alice’s relationship.


Q: What are you working on now?


Liz: Currently we’re working on revisions for The Agathas 2 (so excited about it!) and I’m also working on revisions for my next solo book, another YA murder mystery!


Kathleen: Writing a second Agathas book! (hopefully coming out May 2023!)


Q: Anything else we should know?


Liz: Thank you so much for having us on the blog!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Kathleen Glasgow.

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